Dayton - History of LaSalle County Town Sketches - 1877 - Illinois

History of LaSalle County, Illinois ~ 1877

Sketch of Settlers


[pages 266 - 273]



Dayton embraces that part of T. 34, r. 4, which lies west of the Fox river, about fourteen sections, and a strip one and a half sections wide, from the east side of T. 34, R. 3, being about twenty-three sections of the whole. It formerly included the whole to T. 34, R. 3, but the town of Wallace was taken from its western side, reducing it to its present size. Indian creek passes along the northeast corner of the town, and Crooked Leg creek and Buck creek across the northern part, furnishing considerable timber to that section. These creeks, with the rapid descent of the Fox river, give good drainage to the whole town.

Dayton had the first flouring mill in the county, and the first woolen mill run by water, in the State. At one time, about 1834 and 1835, it was in advance of Ottawa; it had a flouring mill, doing a heavy business, a saw mill, wagon shop, tannery, and chair shop, and stores doing a large business.

The dam across the Fox river is maintained by the State. It was built to turn water into the feeder for the canal, and the Messrs. GREEN, who were the owners of the land, have what water they want, without any expense for dam or race.

The Fox river branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad passes through Dayton. The flouring mill and woolen mill are both in use, and a paper mill has recently gone into operation; and there is water power for many more.

The towns of Dayton and Rutland were settled simultaneously, and their early settlement so connected that it is difficult to fully separate their history. They are separated by Fox river, and between them lies the rapids of that stream, furnishing an excellent water power and from where the feeder for the Illinois and Michigan Canal is taken.

The first settler here was William CLARK, said to be a South Carolinian, but last from Fort Clark, now Peoria, in the spring of 1829. He built his cabin on the N. E. ¼ S. 24; sold his claim, in September, 1829, to John GREEN, and went to Du Page County.

John GREEN, who purchased CLARK’s claim and improvement, in company with William GREEN, Joseph GROVE and William LAMBERT, left Newark, Ohio, on the 27th day of August, 1829, on a tour of exploration of the Northwest. They traveled on horseback by the way of Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo, Michigan, and along the south shore of Lake Michigan, to Chicago. They found but few settlers, and frequently had to sleep on the ground with the sky for a covering.

In September, they reached Walker’s (now Holderman’s) Grove, and the Fox river, where Millington now is, following it down to the cabin of CLARK. He showed them the rapids of the Fox, and told them it was the best mill privilege in America. As such a privilege was what Mr. GREEN was seeking, he purchased CLARK’s claim and determined to locate here. They found a corps of engineers surveying the canal feeder, and passed on to Ottawa, where they found one cabin near where the Ottawa House now is, occupied by James WALKER, and one cabin on the south belonging to Dr. David WALKER. They went on to Bailey’s Point, where they found Lewis BAILEY and William SEELEY. They explored the country as far south as Vandalia, then the capital of the State, when he purchased eighty acres for his mill site, at Dayton, and returned to Ohio, arriving on the 15th of October, and immediately prepared to emigrate to Illinois.


On the 2d of November, 1829, the following named persons left Newark, Licking County, Ohio, for what is now La Salle County, Illinois: John GREEN, David GROVE, Henry BRUMBACK, and Reason DEBOLT, with their families, and the following named young men: Samuel GROVE, Joseph GROVE, Jacob KITE, Alexander McKEE, and Harvey SHAVER. Their outfit was one four-yoke ox team, three two-horse wagons, and one carriage. Found the roads passable till we got into Indiana, where we lay by three days for bad weather. The streams were high, but we were bound for the West, and pressed forward. Found about forty teams weather-bound at Boxby’s, on the Whitewater, where we were told it would be impossible to proceed unless we traveled on the top of wagons and teams already swamped. From there we cut our way through heavy timber for sixty miles, averaging about ten miles per day. One of the party, with a child in his arms, was thrown from the carriage, breaking three of his ribs, and the carriage wheel passed over the child without injuring it. The wounded man pursued the journey, never complaining; so readily did those hardy pioneers adapt themselves to circumstances, and heroically face the inevitable. The streams were so high we had to head them, or, as the saying is, go around them.

We traveled five days by the compass, when we arrived at Parish’s Grove, Iroquois County, Illinois. From there we followed an Indian trail to Hubbard’s trading post, on the Iroquois river. Here we bought all the corn we could get - about eight bushels - and a perogue, or canoe. Loading it with about thirty hundred weight of our goods, we put Jacob KITE, Joseph GROVE, and Samuel GROVE, on for a crew, with directions to work down the Iroquois to the Kankakee, and through that to the Illinois, where they were to meet the teams. This was necessary, as our teams were worn, feed scarce, and roads very bad, or, rather, none at all. On the trip, Joseph GROVE became so chilled that he contracted a disease from which he never fully recovered.

Our teams crossed a prairie which had no bottom - at least, we did not find any. The second day, found a stream too deep to cross; felled trees from either side till they formed a temporary bridge, over which we conveyed our goods and people, which was barely accomplished when the accumulated waters swept our bridge away. The teams were made to swim, one horse barely escaping drowning. One of the women became nervous, and could not be induced to walk the bridge. John GREEN took her on his back, and made his way over on his hands and knees. The exact position in which the lady rode is not recorded.

A heavy rain came on, and we encamped in a small grove, and were obliged to cut up some of our boxes to make a fire. That night we shall never forget; most of us sat up all night. Mother laid down in the wagon, and tried to sleep, and was frozen fast so she could not rise in the morning. It took us over three days to reach the mouth of the Kankakee, a distance of thirty miles, while the perogue had to go seventy miles by water. The crew had about given up in despair of meeting us, when they fortunately heard a well-known voice calling to a favorite horse, by which they were directed to our camp. We ferried most of our goods over the Illinois on the perogue, when a friendly Indian showed us a ford where we took our teams over without difficulty. Our corn being exhausted, our teams had nothing to eat but browse, or dry prairie grass, and very little of that, as the prairie had nearly all been burned over. In the afternoon of the 5th of December, we came in sight of a grove of timber, and John GREEN, believing it to be Hawley’s (now Holderman’s) Grove, started on horseback to ascertain. His expectations were realized, and he found Messrs. HAWLEY and BARESFORD butchering a beef. He harnessed BARESFORD’s horse, a large gray one, to a light wagon of BARESFORD’s, and taking a quarter of the beef, and filling the wagon with corn, started for Nettle creek timber, where he supposed the party would stop.

The company had ordered a halt and prepared to encamp, but with the expectation of going supperless to bed as their provisions were exhausted, when Mr. GREEN drove up, to the great joy of the whole party, both man and beast. From the time the corn gave out and the provisions were running short, one young man refused to eat, contending that as they were bound to starve, the provisions should be reserved for the women and children.

The next day, being the 6th of December, 1829, about four o’clock P.M. we reached our destination - except the three young men in charge of the perogue, whom we expected would reach here before us; and when night came on we were all cast down with fearful forebodings, as we thought they must have met with some serious accident. But our anxiety was soon relieved. On the same day they had made the perogue fast at the grand rapids of the Illinois, now Marseilles, and crossing the prairie without any knowledge of the country, became benighted, but seeing the light from our cabin, joined us about eight o’clock, and we had a great time of rejoicing, the lost having been found. The self-sacrificing brother joined us in a hearty meal, and his appetite never failed him afterward.

Our next object was to secure some provisions, as we had a large family and good appetites. We bought twenty-four hogs of MARKLY, on the Desplaines, the went south to Tazewell county, bought thirty bushels wheat at four shillings, eighty bushes corn at two shillings, and took it to a horse mill where Washington now is; spent several days in putting the mill in order, having to dress the boulder mill stones, and furnish the motive power. Provisions were scarce before we had produced a crop; we frequently lived on beef, potatoes and pound cake, so called, being made of corn pounded in a mortar.

We went to work improving in the spring, and by July 4th we had 240 acres fenced, and nearly all broken, and had built a saw mill, dam and race, and had a run of boulder mill stones in one corner of the saw mill grinding wheat, the first ground on Fox river. The stones were made from boulders or hard heads, found here, by Christopher PAYNE, brother of the Dunkard preacher who was killed by Indians on the prairie between Holderman’s Grove and Marseilles, in 1832.

Of the company of twenty-four that came out in the fall of 1829, two returned to Ohio; of the twenty-two who remained, only seven died in forty-one years.

John GREEN, and wife, Barbara GROVE, came from Licking County, Ohio, in the fall of 1829. He brought the irons for a saw and grist mill by team overland, and millwrights to put them up. Mr. GREEN lived on the claim bought of CLARK, in Rutland, until 1832, when he removed to Dayton. He built a saw mill and put in a run of stone in 1830, and a flouring mill in 1832. He was County Commissioner, and occupied a prominent place in the business and early history of the county; he died December 17th, 1874, aged 84; his widow is still living, 85 years of age. He had nine children: Eliza, married William L. DUNNAVAN, and lives in Rutland; Nancy, married Albert DUNNAVAN, and lives in Rutland; Jesse, married Isabella TRUMBO; he served three terms as Justice of the Peace, and was three years Town Supervisor; in 1849 he led a company of forty-nine men to the then El Dorado, California. David, married Mary STADDEN; served as Town Supervisor several terms; in company with his brother Jesse he has run the large woolen factory at Dayton - the first one run by water in the State. It was built in 1840, and enlarged in 1864. Joseph, died in 1855; Catharine, married George M. DUNNAVAN, of Dayton; Isaac, born in Illinois, married Rebecca J. TRUMBO, and lives on the old farm; Rachel, married George GIBSON; Rebecca, married Oliver W. TRUMBO.

Jacob KITE, from Licking County, Ohio, with GREEN’s company, in the fall of 1829. He never married. A sort of Nimrod, he lived by hunting, and went West.

William STADDEN, and wife, Elizabeth HOADLEY, from Licking County, Ohio, in May, 1830, settled on S. 33, T. 34, R. 4; sold to Jonathan DANIELS, and moved to Dayton in 1831; built a flouring mill; was twice elected Sheriff of La Salle County, and twice to the State Senate. He was a prominent and useful citizen, and died in 1848. Children: Jonathan, married Elizabeth LONG, in Rutland; Mary, married David GREEN; William; Elizabeth, married Horace B. GEORGE; Richard, married Sallie SEVANT.

James McFADDEN, from Ohio, in the fall of 1831. Kept store in Dayton, where the woolen mill now is; it was swept off by high water in the following spring. He was captain of a company of Home Guards, raised in the county during the Black Hawk war; was shot through the ankle by Indians on Indian creek in 1832; he went to Galena.

George M. DUNNAVAN, from Licking County, Ohio, in 1830, with David LETTS, who settled on Section 3 in town of Eden. Mr. DUNNAVAN remained at Cedar Point, as it was then called, till 1835, when he settled on S. 7, T. 34, R. 4, on Buck creek timber. He married Catharine GREEN, daughter of John GREEN. There are ten children: Silas L., is in Montana; Louisa Jane, married D. S. GREEN, and resides at Central City, Colorado; Emma, married Andrew BROWN, and lives in Ottawa; Lucien G., is at Central City, Colorado; Frank W., Mary E., Charles, Belle, Cora, and Edward, are at home.

Thomas PARR, from Licking County, Ohio, in 1834; he married Sarah Ann PITZER, and settled on S. 1, T. 34, R. 3. They have six children: Jesse N., married Anna CAIN, and lives in Kansas; Amanda E., married Noah BRUNK, and lives in Dayton; Joseph B., married Sarah KNICKERBOCKER in Manlius; Francis N., married Julia CURRY, of Serena; Martha A., married Lyman COLE, of Iowa; William H., married Mary RUGER, and lives in Dayton.

Nathan PROCTOR bought the store and goods of David LETTS, in the spring of 1836; he had a very interesting family, and was himself a genial, able and popular man, and did a prosperous business for about one year, and was noted for his honorable and upright business habits. On his way to St. Louis to purchase goods, he was detected in passing counterfeit money. He avoided arrest, but never returned. He was found to be a member of the notorious band that then infested the country from the Illinois to Wisconsin, called the Bandits of the Prairies, who were horse thieves, counterfeiters, robbers, burglars, and murderers. Dies, and plates for counterfeiting, were found in his store, and years after, when the building was torn down, a copperplate engraving was found behind the plastering. If his former or subsequent history should be written, it is probable the name of Nathan PROCTOR would not appear.



1877 History of LaSalle County - Town Index

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